Whatever it takes to get the image to reach that level is what that photographer needs to do. And for me, I just have such a love of the tactile and sensuous quality of a black and white silver gelatin print.
In 1979, I received a phone call from Ansel Adams asking me if I would be willing to consider coming to work for him. I was teaching photography in Southern California at that point.
It had rained on some vivid green ferns in Maine and it was quite beautiful. I was moving the camera slightly and studying the ground glass. Looking at those 20 square inches, trying to find out just what were the right elements to include.
It was amazing to watch him in the darkroom at an advanced age, still get excited when the results were pleasing. He still struggled like we all do in the darkroom and he struggled behind the camera, and when he had a success he was beaming.
I took a workshop from him a few months after that. That experience changed my whole approach to photography. At that workshop in Yosemite in 1973 I decided I wanted to try and see if I could pursue this for myself, and I’m still trying.
The reason I do workshops is so I can learn, and I am fortunate that I’ve probably gained more from the whole experience of teaching than any one participant has. It is all about asking.
Having photographed the landscape for a number of years and specifically working with trees and in the forest I found, without consciously thinking about it, that it was a great learning experience for me in terms of organizing elements.
I support any procedure that allows photographers to express themselves, whether that involves color, black and white, platinum, palladium and digital technology.
I’ve found even after nearly 30 years of doing this, there are all kinds of new surprises that rear their heads at various times and I truly believe that 51% of the images, success takes place in the darkroom.
In my mind I needed a symbol of today’s technology, and I realized that what I wanted to photograph was the Space Shuttle. And so that’s where Places of Power came into being.